Saturday, November 20, 2010

How's your Victorian snowboard factory?

The nice thing about having your shop in a 150 year old, semi-abandoned fixer upper is that it’s free. No rent. And that’s basically the end of the list. It’s a beautiful building, but last spring it was still filled with ancient peeling plaster, broken glass and some insane powdery insulation that got everywhere. It smelled bad, looked bad, and felt worse.
It had just one electrical outlet that worked, and we had our chest freezer plugged into it, with about 50lbs of local beef. One day in July I apparently needed to have two things other than the freezer plugged in for some de-construction work. Probably the sawzall and circular saw. So I unplugged the icebox for what turned out to be two weeks. I discovered this error when I was asked by my wife to fetch a steak from the freezer in my future shop, as it was cookout night. After two weeks of steamy July weather, opening the chest freezer lid was like opening the portal into a new dimension of nasal/moral assault. That’s when the wiring of the shop began in earnest.
Jump forward a couple months...Now it’s November and the shop could be a bit tighter. We did get the furnace running last week, so we won’t be freezing out there. I’m only working in two rooms, so that’s all I’m heating. I don’t think it’ll take much to keep it warm, the walls are tightly insulated now. Plenty of power, plenty of light, plenty of heat; stereo, radio, six string. Giant snowboard press. Everything is right there. Unfortunately, it’s also disorganized, because i’m always running everywhere trying to tie up loose ends before the wood for the snowboards arrives, and THAT is the point I’ve been trying to get to.
Yesterday I talked to the mill that I’ve ordered wood from, checking on it’s status. Angie, the woman I talked to, said she just got the order in today, and they might be able to cut it before the Thanksgiving holiday. Might. This is a fair sized order of maple and poplar veneers, and I ordered it about a month ago. And it might be another two, maybe three weeks until I receive it. Good news: the wood is costing me about one fourth of what I’ve been spending until now, and it’s FSC certified. Bad news: I’m not going to touch it for possibly a month from now. This is basically unacceptable, but what am I going to do? I should have found this place sooner, and I’ll know better in the future.
In the meantime, here is the point: I now have a couple of bonus weeks to get my shop dialed in, which is going to be a key element in making a bunch of wooden snowboards. The wood not getting here is tough, but nothing is worse than working in a confused shop. Now there’s time to think about buttoning up and weatherizing. But to tell the truth, I’d gladly work in a sea of smoldering cigarette butts if it meant I could be building a snowboard right now.

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